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February 10, 2017

Tony Brown appointed as a Magento Master

With such a strong and assiduous community like no other, Magento certainly has a lot to thank its community members for. There really is a true sense of unification, members actively engage with others to share ideas, insights and feedback, and ultimately to keep improving the platform. Our Magento developer conference, Mage Titans is a prime example of this. The conference is designed, curated and attended by community members, and includes a full agenda of talks and exploratory discussions.

Last year, Community Manager at Magento, Sherrie Rhode announced the Magento Masters program; a program which set out to recognise the top contributors in our ecosystem. Firstly, we were introduced to the ‘Movers’, ‘Mentors’, and more recently the ‘Makers’ for 2017. It’s no surprise that a number of the individuals that feature here, are also regular speakers at and activists of Mage Titans.

Makers for the 2017 Magento Masters program

There have been 10 names announced in total, an impressive list of individuals from Magento development agencies and Magento technology partners. Amongst this list, we’re proud to introduce our Technical Director, Tony Brown.

Tony was selected as a Magento Master for 2017 based on his 2016 contributions, through co-organizing multiple Mage Titans events, a number of speaking engagements where he shared his knowledge of optimisation and problem solving on Magento 2, and continuous contributions to DevDocs.

We caught up with our in-house superstar, Tony to ask him a few questions on the matter:

Hi Tony, congratulations on the new appointment! What does becoming a Magento ‘Maker’ mean to you?

It is an honour to be named as a Magento Master for 2017, I was very proud when I heard the news and I’m looking forward to continuing to do what I can to help support our team and the community for the coming year. Mage Titans has been a huge part of my 2016 and that is set to continue this year!

We are very lucky within the Magento community that we have so many passionate and open people willing to invest their time and contribute in what ways they can, in my view, it is certainly one of the key strengths of Magento. I do not envy Sherrie Rohde in collating all the community activity and managing the Masters program!

You’re not just a Maker within the community but also within our team at Space 48. What do you enjoy most about your role?

Learning and sharing knowledge are two of my key passions, I feel lucky that I get to do both in my role as well as out in the wider community. I spend time researching new approaches and techniques as well seeking opportunities to innovate where we can, this filters through into how our technical direction at Space 48 evolves. It’s in our DNA to continually seek to improve!

We work hard at supporting the team in their development and active training is a key aspect of this. Alongside my own support and collaboration on tasks, Vinai Kopp (another Magento Master) has been heavily involved in delivering training to the team. Continuing to help drive Magento 2 knowledge and techniques around automated testing.

Problem solving is another area I really enjoy. This can be delving into technical issues such as a bug or performance issue; helping the team to pull apart, understand and ultimately reach a solution. Or it could be a problem around business processes, or how to approach a technical solution, there is never a shortage of new challenges around the corner!

I love being able to take some of the elements I learn from my day-to-day experiences and share them with the wider community, speaking at events has been a really enjoyable way of sharing those experiences. Getting to meet and learn from many great community members at such events is also a bonus.

Why is it important to contribute to the community, and documentation such as DevDocs?

As I mentioned, I believe that a key strength of Magento is the power of its community, if you are reading this that means YOU! Some people manage to spend significant time giving back to that community, be it via code contributions, improving the developer documentation, speaking at events or in other ways. They are seen as the community heros.

But consider the person that posts their first answer to a problem on the Forum… they’re a hero too! It does not matter how big the contribution is, the impact of that answer can ripple out like a stone’s impact on a pond, saving many people time and helping to push us all forward in terms of our knowledge and understanding.

Back in 2015, you were involved in the Magento 2 Developer Beta in Germany, how did you find that?

This was a great example of how Magento have been working very hard to engage with the community and ensure we have the opportunity to help shape the platform. I was privileged to be invited and it was a great experience, not only to be able to work with the platform that early on, but also to be able to engage with many clever community members and core developers and architects at Magento itself.

We were challenged with getting hands on with different areas of the platform, implementing practical tasks and then presenting back our thoughts and impressions to all who attended. Open discussions also took place in order to ensure the direction of the Magento mothershop was holding true.

What advice do you have for people who want to contribute to the Magento community?

There are many ways in which you can get involved, I would encourage people to give back in any way they can, no matter how small their contribution may be. The easiest way in my opinion is what I would call ‘contribute as you go’. When you come across something that you recognise as wrong or something you are able to fix in your day-to-day work, then push the fix or solution back there and then. The Forum and Magento Stack Exchange are a great example, where you may find a problem with no answer and you manage to solve it yourself (or you may even solve your own problem), in that case post the answer back! It might be a bug you have found in the core, or an error in the documentation. Magento have long since opened up ways to contribute and have made it easy to be able to submit fixes through Github so you can push your fixes back.

If you have more time to give, great! I would recommend playing to your strengths in order to maximise your impact. If debugging issues is your thing, contribute to the core code by hitting the Github issue tracker or get involved on Magento Stack Exchange. If you are a good writer, why not start a blog and share your experiences? Maybe you are really organised? Perhaps you could look into supporting your local (or creating a) Magento Meetup? The possibilities are endless!

What do you think is in store for the future of Magento?

The Magento 2 platform empowers us to provide feature rich sites with very custom functionality, but the change in architecture has been a challenge for many developers to adapt to. I believe that the overall changes have been for the better, there are of course areas that will (and need to) continue to evolve, but the system is absolutely stronger than it ever has been and will no doubt continue to grow.

There is a distinct push from Magento (and the community) to support the learning and continued development of Magento 2, that is what I believe will ensure its continued success.

Magento are working hard to help us collaborate, the new appointment of Max Yekaterynenko as Director of Community Engineering is another step in that direction. He has assembled a team to help manage the Magento 2 Github issue tracker and the processing of Pull Requests. This has addressed something which was becoming a point of friction, there is significant effort required to manage those processes, and previously this didn’t have enough resource to cope with the demands.

We now also have the Magento DevBlog which has launched and should prove to be another important resource for the community. Big thanks to Jason Woosley, Sherrie Rohde, and Ben Marks who have been involved in continually pushing the importance of the relationship between Magento and the community. Also a big shout out to all the community contributors out there, I think it was said last year at the Imagine conference…

“We are Magento”